Taima village, centered on Taimadera Temple,
has a dramatic past with tales telling of many tragic episodes involving historical figures.
Tragic heroines whose stories have been repeatedly retold on stage.
Sad tales of a prince and his sister who, according to legend, lost their lives here.
The first sumo bout watched by an emperor and, sadly, a hero who lost his life.
There are many stories from throughout history set here in this gentle countryside.

Princess Chujo

The tragic heroine Princess Chujo, depicted both in Noh plays and Joruri (puppet theatre)

Princess Chujo, who lived in the 8th century, was born into the noble Fujiwara family. She was both attractive and intelligent. However, despised by her mother-in-law, and suffering ill treatment, she entered Taimadera Temple as a nun.
Deeply faithful, Princess Chujo devoted herself to Buddhism. Inspired by her Buddhist faith, legend tells of how she wove a tapestry, about 4 meters long, from lotus threads, which subsequently became the main object of worship at Taimadera Temple, in just one night.
People have known the story of Princess Chujo ever since the Heian Period. Noh plays by, among others, Kan’ami and Zeami, ‘Taima’ and ‘Hibariyama’, as well as the Joruri play ‘Taima Chujohime’ by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, are regularly performed and held in great affection by people.

Taimadera Temple

Taimadera Temple, the temple associated with the story of Princess Chujo

A number of Taima Mandala said to have been woven by Princess Chujo have in fact been woven over the centuries, although the original does exist and is known as the Konpon Mandala.
Research has shown that the tapestry was not woven from lotus threads, as legend would have it, but from silk and other threads, and that it may have been made on the continent rather than in Japan. Moreover, weaving such a large tapestry in a single night would not, of course, been possible. It is likely to have taken more than ten years to weave!
Today, the version of the Taima Mandala handed down from generation to generation is displayed in the Main Hall, and is recognized as an Important Cultural Property. Very large, and stunning, seeing it is a must!

A very short walk from Kamameshi Tamaya.See here for more details

A stone monument of Princess Chujo

A stone monument said to be the grave of Princess Chujo

A monument known as the Princess Chujo grave sits quietly in a public graveyard on the north side of Taimadera Temple. The monument is pagoda-shaped stone tower with thirteen storeys, believed to date from the end of the Kamakura Period, a few hundred years after her death at a time when tales of Princess Chujo were spreading.
Whether or not Princess Chujo is actually buried here, this is a sacred site, one to which many have come and prayed over the years.

About 6 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya.

Dyeing Well

Sekkoji Temple, where Princess Chujo dyed the lotus threads

This is a temple associated with the Princess Chujo story, and one where she drew water from the well which she used to dye the lotus threads five delicate colours.
This well, known as the ‘Dyeing Well, has, beside it, a cherry tree called the ‘Thread Hanging Cherry’, on which the dyed thread is believed to have been hung. Glancing at the well and tree they both look quite ordinary. You just need a little imagination. They may still have that sort of power over people!

About 13 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya. See here for more details


Nijōzan, beyond which some believe lies the afterlife

Nijōzan, a prominent mountain with twin peaks, Odake (517m) and Medake (474m), lies on the border between Katsuragi-shi in Nara Prefecture, and Taishi-cho in Osaka-fu.
The people who lived on the Yamato Plain would spend their lives seeing the evening sun set between the peaks of Nijōzan, situated as it was on the west side. At some point people began to believe that the world beyond, the afterlife, existed beyond Nijōzan (with apologies to the folk of Osaka!). The belief spread, in later generations, that Amida and Bosatsu – bodhisattavas or Buddhist saints – would come to people from beyond Nijōzan.
In other words, it was thought that Nijōzan was the border between our world and the afterlife.
Whilst regarded as a sacred mountain, it can be climbed by local primary school students, and has several popular climbing routes. The climb takes about one and a half to two hours from Taimadera Station.

The grave of Prince Otsu-no-Mikoto

The grave of Prince Otsu-no-Mikoto near the summit of Odake

The grave of Prince Otsu-no-Mikoto is located near the summit of the Nijōzan Odake, where he met his tragic end. From a noble blood line being the son of Emperor Tenmu, and being skilled in the literary and military arts, he was loved by all, but alleged to have been implicated in treachery he committed suicide at the young age of twenty four.
Thinking of her brother buried on Nijōzan, his younger sister Oku-no-Himemiko wrote this famous poem.

Utsusomi no
Hito ni aru wareya
Asu yori wa Futakamiyama o
Irose to waga mimu

From tomorrow forever
Shall I regard as brother
Twin-peaked Futakami
I, who suffer here

This brother and sister lost their mother when they were young. She became a nun in Ise. Her brother would secretly visit her. Episodes filled with intrigue, anyone interested in history is urged to find out more!

About 1 to 2 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya.
Whilst not particularly high, the route up is a demanding climb.
Be properly prepared.
See here for more details

Toritaniguchi imperial tumulus

The real grave of Otsu-no-Mikoto? Toritaniguchi imperial tumulus

… or so it may be introduced, but what is thought to be the actual Otsu-no-Mikoto grave is in fact at the foot of Nijōzan’s Odake, at Toritaniguchi imperial tumulus. A rectangular mound, one side is about 7.6m, and fenced off by metal bars, the gravestone is visible (with a side entrance, it would have housed a stone sarcophagus).
Some regard Otsu-no-Mikoto being buried near the top of a mountain, having been punished on grounds of treason, as unnatural, although it could be seen that it is only fitting to have the grave of a prince who died tragically in a place such as this.

About 15 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya. See here for more details

Chimataike Pond

The best place to view Nijōzan from – Chimataike Pond

Nijōzan looks lovely when viewed from many points around the broad Yamato Plain, but it is highly recommended to view it from Chimataike Pond. Every year, at the equinoxes (the day before the spring and autumn equinox), the evening sun sets precisely between Odake and Medake, making it a truly lovely scene!
We strongly recommend you come at these times to see what must surely be a sight to almost make you want to set out on your journey to the land beyond, to paradise!

About 25 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya. See here for more details

Kamameshi Tamaya is in Katsuragi-shi, the birthplace of sumo wrestling

Katsuragi is recognized as the place where the Japanese national sport, sumo, originated.
The Nihon Shoki chronicles record that, in ancient times, in the 7th year of the reign of Emperor Suinin (supposedly in 23 years BC), Taima no Kehaya, a local who boasted about his great strength, challenged Nomi no Sukune from Izumo no Kuni to a wrestling bout.
However, sumo in those days was nothing like it is today. The rules were completely different. Anything went. Winning could mean being quite violent. On this occasion, Nomi no Sukune kicked Kehaya in the chest and broke ribs, and then broke his back and killed him. The defeated Kehaya’s lands were subsequently confiscated and given to Nomi no Sukune. Poor old Kehaya!
As for the unfortunate local wrestler Kehaya who lost, a fine stone memorial stands here today, and is held in deep veneration by visitors.

The Katsuragi-shi Kehayaza Sumokan

A dohyo (sumowring) you can enter!
(The Katsuragi-shi Kehayaza Sumokan)

A unique sumo-themed facility standing along the road to Taimadera Temple. There is a real dohyo sumo ring in the main hall. Women are not permitted to enter actual dohyo rings, but they can here. Why not step up onto the ring and see what it’s like?

About 7 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya. See here for more details

Taima Kehayazaka

Taima Kehayazaka, said to be the resting place of the loser Kehaya

Said to be the grave of Taima Kehaya, who participated in the first sumo bout to have been watched by an emperor, and who was beaten, the memorial stands in front of the Katsuragi-shi Kehaya Sumokan.
Making a visit to the temple, you might just end up feeling like an exhausted wrestler yourself! For your pains, you’ll at least get to see this memorial which looks rather like it should be dedicated to a local dignitary, erected between the end of the Heian and Kamakura Periods.

About 7 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya. See here for more details

朗紀本舗 Dokkoi Manju

Japanese-style sweet potato ‘Dokkoi Manju’.

Literally next to Kintetsu Taimadera Station, Aki Honpo Taima sells the famous Dokkoi Manju. Based on a sumo concept, Japanese style sweet potato kaitenyaki, using only distinctively flavored sweet potato in each season, they look appealing, and have a curiously nostalgic taste.
There is a total of five types: plain, five bean, chestnut, cream cheese, and the fifth, seasonal Dokkoi Manju. You must buy one as soon as you get to Taimadera Station, and enjoy it on your way!

About 11 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya. See here for more details


A fight to the death was held here! Koshioreda

It was here, at Koshioreda, that the first sumo bout viewed by an emperor, between Taima Kehaya and Nomi no Sukune, was held. The name may be odd, but the statue of the sumo wrestler next to rice fields beside the by-pass has a whimsical aspect. Being such a peaceful spot, it’s hard to imagine a duel being held here once upon a time

About 28 minutes’ walk from Kamameshi Tamaya. See here for more details

A most curious structure,
the Kasado
with its single pillar

Standing in quiet isolation at the foot of Nijōzan, the Kasado is a mysterious edifice, with a tiled roof, supported by a column with sides about 40cm. Its shape is reminiscent of the Japan’s Karakasa Kozo (the ‘Umbrella Pixie’).
In fact, there is a theory that this was erected by the local magistrate in the Edo Period, as a monument honoring the local lord when he died. If, whoever it was, was so important, folk wonder why on earth there were no walls, but there were surely good reasons (budget perhaps?).

About 12 minutes’ walk
from Kamameshi Tamaya.
See here for more details

Nijōzan Furusato Koen Park,
and a stairs
with 456 stone steps

A park full of shrubs and trees adjoining the Futakami Park Taima, Taima no Ie rest area. A peaceful park to which many parents bring their kids to enjoy a picnic, you may notice a pretty challenging set of 456 steps!
An arduous climb to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with what is close to a panorama encompassing the Yamato Plain.

About 20 minutes’ walk
from Kamameshi Tamaya.
See here for more details

Walk the oldest national road
in Japan
The Takeuchi Kaido

Opened in the 21st year (613) of the reign of Empress Suiko, this is the oldest national road in Japan. The route linked Asuka, the capital at that time, and Nanba, the gateway to the sea. From around Nagao Shrine in Katsuragi-shi, via the Takeuchimine Pass on the south side of Nijōzan, it was about 26km to Sakai-shi in Osaka. With a mountain pass, it is not easy route to traverse, but along the way there are large and small kofun burial mounds, which can help you appreciate what it must have felt like for those who lived so long ago. It’s a worthy challenge for those fit enough to undertake it.
On the Nara Prefecture side, fans of Shiba Ryotaro, the historical novelist, must seek out the house of his mother, now preserved as the Watayumizuka rest stop. Shiba lived there in his early childhood.

About 16 minutes’ walk
from Kamameshi Tamaya.
See here for more details

The Yamatomune, a house
with traditional residential
architectural features

Located in the centre of Yamato no Kuni, the property is called the Yamatomune. It was built as a residential property and features unique designs. There are few such properties left in Nara Prefecture, although some can be seen in and around the old village of Taima.
One characteristic is the slightly higher section along the roofline in the middle of the thatched roof, and on each side of it the thatched roof slopes away more gently. This style is known as takahezukuri.
The building is a very rare example of this style of architecture. Look out for it whilst on your walk! (※ As it is a family home, internal viewing is not possible)

Seal stamps which can be collected in the vicinity of Kamameshi Tamaya

In recent years there has been a boom in collecting goshuin (seal stamps) at temples and shrines.
Receiving stamps is one way of establishing a connection with Shinto gods and Buddha. The contrast between the stamp color and the black calligraphy can be most attractive, and be a nice memento of your visit. You’re encouraged to get a stamp booklet and to try collecting them.

The following are stamps you’ll find primarily at the sub- temples and halls in and around Taimadera Temple.

※ You can get all sorts of seal stamps from the temples you visit.
※ The beautiful black ink painting seal stamp (1,500 yen) you’ll receive at Taimadera Temple’s Soinin is popular. Please book in advance before visiting.

Taima ōmandara

Taimadera Temple
Hondo (Main Hall)
seal stamp

Michibiki kan’non

Taimadera Temple
seal stamp


Taimadera Temple
seal stamp


Taimadera Temple
seal stamp


Taimadera Temple
seal stamp


Sekkoji Temple
seal stamp